February 19, 2014 - Oxford Township's three full-time elected officials received pay bumps last week because a study showed their salaries were lower than their counterparts in comparable communities.
In a 4-3 decision, the board voted to raise the annual salaries of Treasurer Joe Ferrari and Clerk Curtis Wright from $55,794 to $59,000, a 5.75 percent increase. Supervisor Bill Dunn's annual pay was increased from $66,054 to $68,000, a 2.95 percent raise.
The raises will take effect March 1.
All three full-time officials voted for the increases as did Trustee Patti Durr. Voting against them were trustees Jack Curtis, Sue Bellairs and Melvin (Buck) Cryderman.
According to figures supplied by Ferrari, based on a survey of 16 comparable townships in Michigan, the average salary for a supervisor is $66,228; for a clerk, it's $62,336; and for a treasurer, it's $61,025.
The figures were taken from a compensation survey conducted by the Michigan Township Association in 2012.
Factors such as population and the township's total State Equalized Value were taken into account as well as whether or not the township is located in Oakland County.
Ferrari then added in 3 and 2 percent raises because that's what Oxford gave its officials for 2013 and 2014.
The 16 townships used in the study were Highland, Davison, Genoa, Allendale, Byron, Hamburg, Gaines, Oshtemo, Texas, Lyon, Brandon, Commerce, Independence, Orion, Rose and Southfield.
The approved raises are less than what was proposed. Originally, the board was asked to consider raising the supervisor's annual pay to $71,000 and the clerk and treasurer's salaries to $62,000.
Bellairs was opposed to any pay increase because she believes the current salaries are sufficient.
"You provided the information and the information tells me you're right in the ballgame, right where you should be – maybe a little above when you include the $30,000 benefit package," she said.
In addition to their wages, the township pays $30,291 for Dunn's benefits, $30,658 for Ferrari's benefits and $30,681 for Wright's benefits.
Those figures include health insurance, life insurance, a 10 percent pension contribution and the employer's portion of payroll taxes to fund Social Security and Medicare. It also includes Dunn's cellular phone bill.
"Oxford Township has a fantastic benefit package, which we hear about over and over again when we want to cut back," Bellairs said. "Nobody has benefits, I don't think, like Oxford Township does. Nobody."
Bellairs noted her opinion on the salary issue is not a reflection of her feelings regarding the job performances of the three full-time officials. "I think (Dunn does) a wonderful job," she said. "I think Joe's a wonderful treasurer. Curt's a great clerk."
But Bellairs pointed out salaries are tied to the office, not the individual who currently occupies it. "We're setting this as a foundation for whoever comes on this board," she said. "It could be somebody that doesn't even know what they're doing, yet still get paid that much money."
Dunn pointed out the township government gets a lot of work done despite having a very minimal office staff.
"I meet with a lot of the (other township) supervisors," he said. "They can't believe that we run (a) 20,000-person township with nine employees . . . People ask how we do it."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.